Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.
January 4th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.

[Updated at 5 p.m. ET Friday] U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the "assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false."

The Canadian man who made the claim had a driver's license and a birth certificate, "which the [U.S. border officer] used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country," CBP said in a statement released this week.

Scanned images are not accepted forms of identification, the CBP said.

[Initial post, 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday] Forgot your passport? There’s an iPad for that.

At least in the singular case of a Montreal photographer who left home without the important document on his way to the United States. Martin Reisch said he was able to show a scanned copy of his passport to an American border guard and was given entry into the U.S., according to news reports.

To be sure, the incident was not without trepidation. "There was a slight hesitation; he didn't really seem like he was impressed," Reisch told CBC News. But the guard soon gave him back his iPad, and he was on his way to Vermont.

But isn't this a technological breakthrough? Could this be the Apple-white dawn of a new age of digital facsimile?What would Steve Jobs have thought?

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this,” Reisch told The Montreal Gazette.

The only problem? A scanned or photocopied passport is not usually accepted.

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canadian citizens entering the U.S. are required to present either a passport; a valid photo ID;  NEXUS or FAST cards, which are frequent traveler programs between the two countries; or a certificate verifying a person's Indian status.

Brian Masse, a member of the Canadian Parliament, told the Gazette that a scanned copy "is not a secure document. That could be altered, and could also lead to some precedents that would jeopardize (border) security."

Reisch told the paper, “I hope the biggest thing to come out of this is that it becomes a catalyst to change the rules.”

What do you think? Is it time for a digital ID?

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Filed under: Canada • U.S. • World
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Tabatha

    This is scary......anything can be altered

    January 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris G

    Why let the truth (license and birth certificate used as well) stand in the way of a headline that captures views.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kevin

    two idiots.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Catherine Boudreau

    This has nothing to do with Canada! It is the US Border Service that let him in!!!!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GeorgeBos95

    A "secure" digital ID will come ... but this ain't it. Someone in Border Service needs a stern talking to.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick

    So he brought his birth certificate, but forgot his passport?? And then when he reports about it, he says he acts like it was his iPad that got him across the border?? Sounds like someone is just trying to make a name for himself. Your 15 minutes are over now.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. humtake

    OMG!!!! He had to show some kind of ID to get in to America? Obviously he doesn't know you can ignore that these days.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Beaugregard

    Doesn't anybody proofread this stuff before they post it?!!?
    "But isn't this be a technological breakthrough?" really CNN?!

    January 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Walker

    If you want to make it easy, just implant chips, they do it to dogs, why not?

    January 5, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. borderthanfawk

    oh please...if he crossed at Derby Line, he wouldn't have had to even show anything at all...

    January 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ESmith

    Before passport, etc was enforced at our Canadian border, my family and I were frequent visitors. This year I got enhanced license. Anyone tell me why we are not allowed to use it at the border recently? Thanks.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |

    We need bar codes on our foreheads

    January 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. masterblaster

    this only makes sense if the passport merely matches a digitized version of it that the control officer pulls up on their own display. And there's no need to actually stamp it when entering the US.

    ..and he's a Canadian.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stephen

    I have used a copy, fax, and digital copy of drivers license and passport for travel. We have shifted to a digital society and this is only only implication we need to address. We have digital boarding passes, digital wallets for payment, and more. Instead of trying to run from this reality, we should embrace it, and build systems and controls to manage it. Of course this is not to say that security should be compromised, rather a net benefit of increased convenience and enhanced security at the same time. A company called is tackling this and doing some really interesting things in the space.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hellomr1

    Yes, boarder against should have peoples passport on their computer, so they could pull it up and confirm visuals. Also they could see some real ID from them, like drivers license.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
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